A neighborhood movement to install bike lanes through a portion of Skid Row picked up steam today, with the Los Angeles City Council voting unanimously in favor of considering adding bike lanes on Fifth and Sixth streets, from Broadway to Central Avenue.
The vote came at the request of councilmember Jose Huizar, who represents Downtown. He said today that he’s thankful that neighborhood and bike advocates brought to his attention that the street is dangerous.
Right now there are bike lanes in several Downtown neighborhoods, including on Seventh Street—but those cut off right at Main Street, which is the western boundary of Skid Row.
Councilmember Herb Wesson called it “a tricky stretch” of the neighborhood to navigate.
“I had to hustle to get across the street,” he said.
That’s unacceptable for a neighborhood where so many residents walk and uses bikes for transportation, says Ariana Alcaraz, an organizer with Skid Row-based Los Angeles Community Action Network.
LA CAN has been working to get bike lanes in Skid Row for years, but the campaign has really “amped up” in the last two or so years says Alcaraz.
Last summer, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition teamed up with LA CAN in the push for bike lanes. In May, Huizar introduced the motion to explore the possibility of adding the streets to the mobility plan.
That same month, the bicycle coalition published a blog post, expressing dismay at the speed of progress on the issue, which it described as “frustratingly slow.”
“Skid Row deserves bike lanes and safety improvements just as much as the Arts District— and definitely with more urgency,” the coalition wrote.
The vote won’t bring bike lanes to the neighborhood right away, but it could lead to including them in the city’s Mobility Plan 2035.
That would only be the beginning, says Alcaraz. “The bigger fight will be to get the lanes prioritized” so they can actually be built, she says.
Bike lanes have been a hot-button issue in some LA neighborhoods, where they symbolize, for some, the anticipated arrival of new, more moneyed residents to working-class neighborhoods.
But Alcaraz, citing LA CAN’s varied work in the community, on everything from civil rights to housing, says that because of the many fronts on which they are advocating for residents, the organization is confident it can “ensure that bike lanes are not used as a tool for gentrification.”
- Why Are There No Bike Lanes in Skid Row? [LA Weekly]
- Bike Lanes on Skid Row [LA County Bike Coalition]
- Arts District awarded $15M to spend on bike- and pedestrian-friendly upgrades [Curbed LA]
- How Los Angeles plans to make its streets less deadly [Curbed LA]